A few years ago, someone suggested that vendors who wanted to market against Intuit’s Quick Books should adopt a phrase like “Do you want it Quick? Or do you want it right?

That was before Intuit stiffened the product with an audit trail. The person who made that suggestion was me and no one picked up on the phrase. Since then, QuickBooks has become even more entrenched in the low-cost accounting software market, despite Microsoft’s entrance with the product now called Office Accounting.

Other software publishers have commonly marketed to get Intuit graduates, people who have outgrown the product, for some time. But this year, the market seems increasingly aimed at getting graduates and any disgruntled customers. After all, as Intuit slightly more than 1.5 million in fiscal 2006, nabbing even a small piece of the installed base would yield huge rewards.

And so they come.

AccountantsWorld has an advertisement asking if accountants are tired of cleaning up QuickBooks messes. Another online vendor, Intacct, two weeks ago announced a “QuickBooks Graduation” to encourage switchers. In March, NetSuite issued a press release announced the alleged continuing defection of QB users and the company considerately offers a site www.netsuite.com/qbswitch, a message that’s hard to miss.

So what are their chances of success?

The AccountantsWorld argument may sound appealing, but it assumes that accountants are tired of cleaning up the messes, when, in fact, they are probably making lots of money doing so. And in the words of one Sage reseller with a CPA background, “Accountants don’t want to hear anything other than QuickBooks.” I think accountants have stopped complaining about QuickBooks and figured out which clients it suits, and which it doesn’t.

The real battle is for the companies that have outgrown their software and should move into the middle market. Intuit has done a good job with its QuickBooks Enterprise Solution, and is on a path to sell about 15,000 units this year.

How successful are these companies going to be?

It’s hard to judge if the QuickBooks attrition rate has risen. It is interesting to note that Intacct, NetSuite and AccountantsWorld all nsell online applications as one of the usual pieces of technology wisdom is that the best chance to challenge a dominant player is when technology platforms change.

But it’s clear that anyone who can figure out the magic formula will clean up.

So the other guys will continue trying to challenge the QuickBooks behemoth.




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